Category Archives: Circuit Protection

Floating Green?

Kevin,

I have just purchased a 7KVA generator set to replace my old one on my marine electrical system. The unit is supplied connected M.E.N. internally with output supply connected to a bipole circuit breaker.

As the connections between earth and neutral is before the the breakers, there is no allowance for the earth wire from the appliance side to connect to on the genset. Should I wire this appliance earth onto the frame of the genset or leave it ‘floating’?Westerbeke Generator

A.T.

Hi A.T.,

The green, earth wire from your AC system needs to be connected to the chassis of the new generator. It should not be floating. With AC systems, the neutral and ground are connected at the source of power (the generator). The neutral and ground remain separate on the rest of the boat. The neutral is connected through the breaker and the ground directly.

The reality is, once the generator battery ground is connected to the rest of the battery negatives on the boat, the green, earth wire path is complete. Your AC system green earth wire is already connected to the boat’s DC negative system. The negative generator cable is connected to the generator ground. The generator ground is connected to the generator’s earth ground.

Hope this helps,

Kevin

Stop Smoking

Kevin,

I tore all of the boat wiring out of my 1989 Champion. I have all new gauges and a new marine electrical switch panel.

When I attempt to hook up the new stuff to the – and + battery terminals, I get big sparks and smoking.

Have you got any suggestions?Smokin'

Thanks.

George

Hi George,

It sounds like there is a directly short to ground in your marine wiring.

Follow the + wire from the boat battery to the distribution. Check for proper connections on switch lights and crossed connections on gauges.

When you fix the problem, I strongly recommend adding circuit protection at the battery. It will trip before the smoke gets too thick.

Good luck,

Kevin

Easy AC Outlets?

Kevin,

I am converting a barge into a houseboat/floating home.

I like the Easy Add AC Shore Power system that you designed for your retail marine electrical site, but want/need more electrical outlets to power things like computers, microwave, etc., etc…

Do you have a system that will handle more outlets or can you can you point me somewhere that I can find the information.

Thank you,

Ted

Hi Tim,

The complete shore power system can be expanded to as many outlets as you wish.

The limiting factor is the 20 amp main breaker. If 20 amps is not large enough, I would take a look at the panels that are available from Paneltronics. Their systems are not snap together marine electrical like ours, but they do offer a wide variety of AC panels.

Thank you,

Kevin

House Battery Bank

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for all of your really helpful boat wiring advice.

I am rebuilding my boat battery wiring to add a dedicated house battery system.

I want to use six 6 volt lead acid batteries and want to wire them in a series/parallel configuration – but am confused about how each battery is inter-connected with the one next to it. They will sit in two rows of three batteries each. Boat battery wiring

Would you have a boat wiring diagram showing how to wire this up for six marine batteries?

Thanks,

Charles

Hi Charles,

Dedicated house battery systems are becoming more popular in marine electrical and for good reason. They can really help with power management and – more importantly – can make sure that you can start your engines to get home after a long day playing. This is especially true of boat battery wiring that includes an automatic smart boat battery switch.

Here is a boat wiring diagram that should help your with your project.

Kevin

Wrong Charger?

Hi Kevin,

I hope you can help me with a boat wiring issue.

On my boat battery wiring, I have two batteries for my trolling motor, a 24 volt Motorguide. They are hooked up20 amp breaker

  • + to motor
  • - on battery to + on 2nd battery
  • - to trolling motor

The on board marine electrical battery charger has connections for two batteries. Do I just hook it up positive and negative on both batteries?

The reason I ask is the in line fuse on one battery was blown as I took it apart today.

Thanks

Dean

Hi Dean,

Most dual output battery chargers are designed to be connected the way you had them.

The blown fuse may just be a fluke or your charger may not be designed to charge your batteries in series. Check with the manufacturer’s recommendations. If they say 12/24 volt systems, then you are good to go. If not, you will need to disconnect the batteries to charge or buy another charger.

Kevin

Euro boat on US shore power?

Hi Kevin

I brought my sailboat from Europe with me when I came here to work this year. The marine electrical is completely European spec, i.e., 220VAC-16A-12VDC. I am wondering how I can plug in to US shore power at marinas here in the US.Marinco adaptor

I do not want to completely change my boat wiring as I will eventually be returning to Europe. Also I am not a heavy user of power, I could cope with just keeping the batteries charged up.

Regards

Paul

Hi Paul,

Some of the AC components on your boat may be able to cope with the change in voltage and frequency, but not all of them and the solution is not as simple as adding a transformer to increase the voltage.

If you only want to charge your batteries, I would buy a simple battery charger and charge your batteries with an extension cord while the boat is in the states.

Good luck,

Kevin

Bigger Breaker

Kevin,

When replacing my factory installed circuit breakers, I noticed the breaker for the bilge pump is only rated at 4 amps.

My Rule bilge pump, (also factory installed) is labeled “12 Volt 6 amp fuse”. The specifications I found on line say this pump draws 3.3A at 12 volts and 5.0 amps at 13.6 volts. I assume the boat wiring size used is typical for bilge pump installation. (appears to be 14-16 Ga.?) Carling breaker

Should I install a larger circuit breaker with this set-up? I am thinking a 7 Amp would be sufficient?

The boat is a 2002 Sea Pro 235 WA with two batteries.

Thank You

Shonna

Hi Shonna,

I would go with the 7 amp breaker.

7 amps will not exceed the current carrying capacity of your wire, will help reduce nuisance tripping of the breaker under full load, but will trip under a locked rotar condition.

Thanks

Kevin

Glen-L Wiring

Kevin,

I am building a 16′ wooden bass boat using the Glen-L design and it is about 80% complete. I am now getting ready to outfit the interior, build the helm, purchase my motor, etc.

I have visited your sister boat wiring site and it looks like just what I will need due to its simplified “plug and play ” approach. What I am looking for is advice on everything I will need to wire my boat using EzAcDc marine electrical.

My boat wiring needs include:

In summary, I need everything and look to your recommendation to help me get what I need to fully wire my boat from the boat wiring harness to fuses, circuit breakers, switches, etc.

Thank you.

Kelly

Hi Kelly,

Your boat sounds great! Thank you for your interest in the products at our sister site.

Here is the boat wiring that I would recommend.

  • Fully wired eight switch marine electrical panel. This comes with one panel mounted 12 volt receptacle and you will want to add a second remote outlet.
  • Boat wiring harness that quickly snaps together with the panel above.
  • Smart Battery Switch system for two batteries. This includes cables, ground bus, and you will want to add a couple of battery boxes.
  • Navigation lights are controlled by the nav/anc switch in your new switch panel. Wiring for split red and green lights and a single white stern light is included with the boat wiring harness. The site has a variety of Attwood LED navigation light kits that may suite your needs. All come with connectors so that they will snap right onto the new harness.
  • I would run 8 AWG tinned wire for your trolling motor.
  • Please send me the specs and length of total wire run for the power winch to determine the cable size requirements.
  • Currently we do not stock a trolling motor connection. My preference in the Marinco Connect Pro System.
  • You can use one of the switches on the new panel for the stereo. The new panel will even include a pre-printed “STEREO” switch cap. There is a ground, constant power (memory), and switched power coming off of the back of the switch for a stereo. We do not include speaker wire.
  • The boat wiring harness has two breakouts for courtesy lights. The switch panel kit also includes a “COURTESY LIGHTS” switch cap.
  • We do not have fish finders, but you can get power for your fish finder from one of the breakers on your new switch panel.
  • The switch panel comes pre-wired with a horn button and the boat harness includes wiring for a horn.
  • We also have boat horns that will attach easily onto the new harness.
  • We do not have gauges. Most of the gauge wiring will be included with your engine harness.
  • Our harness comes with one bilge pump and auto float switch connection. You can either run a second pump from one of the switch panel accessory wire breakouts or you can use the livewell pump breakout for a second pump.
  • No additional fuse panel is needed. The switches have circuit breakers mounted directly below them on the panel. The main harness battery connection has an in-line circuit breaker for harness protection.

Thank you again for your consideration. I hope this helps,

Kevin

Kevin,

My boat anchor winch is the Deck Mate 19 Small Boat Anchor Windlass from West Marine. The draw is 15 amps @ 12 volts and the winch includes a built in 15A circuit breaker. The length of wire from the helm to the power winch at the bow is roughly 9 feet. Please advise cable size requirement.

Thank you.

Kelly

Hi Kelly,

18′ run total @ 15 amps with 3% drop, I would run 10 AWG wire.

Kevin

Columbia Rewire

Hello Kevin,

I’ve recently became the owner of a Columbia 22 sailboat built in 1969. I’ve gutted the boat wiring from her and need to rewire.

I need bow port and starboard navigation lights and some minor interior lights she currently has a white masthead light at the cross tree and a transom light. Both of them seem to look fine however I would like to convert to LED for all the lighting.Attwood is the world's top supplier of navigation lights for boats

She also has in place a Guest battery switch

I’m considering buying everything that I need from your snap-together boat wiring site.  But, before I do, can you tell me everything that I will need?

I think I need to control three separate lighting systems

  1. The red and green bow lights
  2. Masthead and stern
  3. Interior lights
  4. Perhaps nav/GPS and cell phone charger?

Any help would be appreciated. Your snap together wiring system seems like a real timesaver, but I didn’t want to get the wrong parts.

Finally, do you also furnish instructions on how it all hooks up to everything including battery?

Thanks again

Peter

Hi Peter,

I would start with our smaller boat wiring harness. This will provide wiring for your red/green boat lights, your white, all-round light, and interior lights.

On your boat, I would combine this harness with our five switch marine electrical panel. This panel will provide switches for your nav/anc and stern lights along with your cockpit courtesy lights.

We have several navigation light kits that plug directly into our wiring harness. Simply choose the mounting configuration for your boat.

The installation is easy and instructions are provided.

I would keep the Guest battery switch in the system. The main power connection from your new boat wiring harness will connect to the battery switch to allow you to completely turn the power off when you leave your boat.

Hope this helps,

Kevin

O’Day Dilemma

Hello Kevin,

My boat wiring question is:

I have a 1979 37′ O’Day sailboat, with an Aft Cabin with the original 4 breaker terminal mounted on the locker.

When I bought the boat in 2000, I replaced the existing Loran with radar and wired it into the panel where the Loran had been and added a VHF radio to the back of the panel. Both have individual fuse protection. O'day Sailboat

Everything has worked fine until a few weeks ago when I noticed I have no power to the panel – cabin lights, engine room light, radar, radio, and autopilot do not work.

Both the positive and negative lines from the main power source in the forward part of the boat were tested by me and tested good.

I was told that it could be a ground problem. I looked at the negative marine electrical bus bar inside the locker and what is there are the negative wires from the accessories and the negative wire from the main bank in the forward part of the boat. There was also another 10 gauge wire but not attached to anything.

Should there be a ground wire attached to the buss bar to the engine and could this wire be my problem in that it somehow become disconnected?

I installed a new six breaker panel replacing the original; I installed a new 30 amp terminal (6 terminals) inside the locker and ran each accessory positive to it and then from there to the panel; Each accessory negative goes directly to the to the bus bar along with the 10 gauge negative wire from the main power source. The new panel has a negative bar which I also attached to the bus bar.

I then turned on each switch and they all light up meaning power is there. But when I turn on any of the accessories at the actual device they do not work and all the panel lights go off. When I turn off the individual accessory the panel lights will go back on. This happens with each item- cabin lights, engine room light, radio, radar, auto pilot.

Can you help me?

Confused

Jordan

Hi Jordan,

The problem is either in the feed wire or the ground wire.

The best way to find your problem is to test voltage levels when the system is under a load.

The panel indicator lights will initially turn on because the low current draw of the lights induces a small voltage drop in the wire. When you turn on a higher draw device, the voltage drop increases and the light turns off.

You will probably find a bad cable connection or hidden splice.

Hope this helps,

Kevin

Thank you for your response.

While waiting to hear back from you, I continued to investigate the problem.

Although I found numerous other problems as the O’Day has the original wiring, the cause for the failure was due to corrosion inside the positive wire where it entered into the front panel for power. As I tried to pull the wire to locate it, it broke off and was corroded inside the insulation. The joys of an old boat.

I have rewired the entire aft by replacing all the wires and panel and everything is back in order.

Regards,

Jordan